Our greatest achievement will be when some of these kids become the engineers of tomorrow.  

Paige Wilson, president, Mining & Metals

Building robots, bettering lives

In Chile, our colleagues mentor teams of local students as they design and build robots to compete in local, national, and international competitions. FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) releases an annual challenge project based on a real-world scientific topic or problem. This year’s FLL teams will tackle the Trash Trek Challenge: a mission to develop an innovative way of reusing trash. 165 teams from Chile are expected to take part in the global challenge.

Meet a few of our mentors in Santiago and find out why the chance to help kids discover their passion for robotics and STEM keeps them coming back to volunteer: 

"For me, being part of FLL has been an experience of personal growth," says Santiago-based project engineer Carlos Rojas. "It's been both exciting and fun. I became a child again and really enjoyed how happy these youngsters were. Not only did I have the opportunity to teach, but also to learn." 

Bechtel colleagues will frequently tell you that the experience of being a mentor opens their eyes to their ability to inspire future scientists, engineers, and innovators. "I've realized that these young people have great "hidden" talent that many of them have not discovered," says Carlos.

In 2014, a Bechtel-sponsored FLL team from Chile was selected as a top winner in FLL's Global Innovation Award competition among 547 candidates from 27 countries. The award recognizes the creative solutions generated by middle-school-age students during the annual FLL competition.

In response to the 2013 Nature’s Fury project challenge, which asked them to develop an innovative solution for helping people prepare for, stay safe during, and recover from disasters, seven Santiago-based students on the Bechtel-sponsored Robotecs team developed a low-cost plan of embedding retroreflectors and LED lighting in roads to guide people in a tsunami evacuation. They won US$5,000 to turn their idea into reality and were honored at an award ceremony in Washington, DC. 

FIRST® is a global nonprofit that runs four robotics programs for young people between the ages of 5 to 18. The programs offer real-world engineering experience and inspire students to pursue education and career paths in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. FIRST is one of the company’s five Stewardship Signature Programs.